The city asked the public for feedback last week on Mississauga’s ambitious Climate Change Action Plan.

Spanning 10 years, the $450 million project aims to transform Mississauga into a “low carbon and resilient community.”

The Action Plan is currently on its public consultation phase. The plan falls in line with Mississauga’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving a reduction target of 80 per cent, below 1990 levels, by 2050.

Until October 10, the city will host four open houses that welcome the public to take part in the feedback survey. Anyone can participate by sharing anonymous responses in these open houses located in convenient Mississauga community centres.

On Tuesday, from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the Instructional Building Atrium (IB) at UTM will serve as the third open house for the Action Plan feedback. The open house welcomes not only the Mississauga residents but the UTM community as well.

Climate Change Specialist Leya Barry, who is the city’s climate change coordinator, encourages students to have their say.

“We want to hear from students,” said Barry to The Medium. “That is why we are hosting one of our open houses at UTM. We will be on hand to answer questions and receive feedback. We encourage all students to stop by.”

For those who can’t attend the open houses, the city has also provided an online survey to make feedback more accessible and convenient.

The brief survey presents a series of opinion questions on greenhouse reduction strategy bylaws and policies, climate-change resilient infrastructure, and new building technologies.

The survey also provides a glance at pilot projects being considered by the city, such as home energy audits and rain garden installations for managing storm water.

Barry told CBC news that survey answers will be placed in the Climate Change Action Plan draft, which will subsequently be presented to the council in December.

Mississauga has already seen its fair share of recent extreme weather-related events, including the Cooksville flooding in August 2009, the high water and storm surge in April 2017, the ice and windstorms in 2018, and record-high summer temperatures.

Through mitigation and adaptation goals, the Action Plan seeks to reduce both community and corporate greenhouse gas emissions and increase their resilience to withstanding and responding to future climate events by taking action.

The Action Plan credits large cities like Mississauga as major contributors to greenhouse gas production. According to the draft, climate change is a municipal issue, and taking action should begin with cities.

The draft also states that municipal operations result in five to ten per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and municipalities indirectly control over 40 per cent of greenhouse emissions in the community. Over 50 per cent of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions originate in cities, as local actions pose immediate impacts to overall global effects.

Thus, the draft states, cities can become a “ground zero” for climate change effects.

Using a holistic approach, climate-initiative actions will be exercised by the city and wider community, including those who “live, work and play in Mississauga.”

Examples of these actions include planting trees, using smart technologies such as electric cars and smart thermostats, and growing and purchasing local produce.

Similarly, U of T Mississauga is conducting several green initiatives, events, and projects to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint. 

This includes a solar retrofit of the Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre.

“The solar project is especially exciting, we’ve installed solar collectors on the roof of the building, and they will be used to pre-heat water before it enters the boilers, so the boilers will use less natural gas,” said Chelsea Dalton, the Environmental/Sustainability Coordinator at UTM’s Facilities Management & Planning department.

UTM buildings have also been constructed to abide by LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, silver standards. LEED is a green building rating system run by the Canada Green Building Council, using less energy and water than conventional buildings. 

The campus currently has four LEED silver buildings: Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, Instructional Building (IB), Innovation Complex (KN), and Deerfield Hall. UTM also has one LEED gold building-the Health Sciences Complex.

The Maanjiwe Nendamowinan (MN) building is pending certification but is estimated to be silver LEED at the minimum.

The upcoming building projects, Dalton said, will also aim to be LEED certified.

“We are planning some new buildings, including the New Science Building, which will target LEED gold,” said Dalton. 

“It’s going to have green features including a geothermal system for heating and cooling, green roofs, rainwater harvesting system, demand control ventilation, solar photovoltaic that produces electricity to help offset the electrical load of a building, LED lighting throughout, and other sustainability measures.”

Overall, the University of Toronto has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 37 per cent, below 1990 levels, by 2030.

Released this week, the detailed plan on how to achieve this goal can be found in the tri-campus Low Carbon Action Plan.

Despite the positive green advances by the university, Dalton presses students to play a role in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

“Take part in marches, demonstrations, rallies, and climate strike events to show decision-makers how much you care about this issue,” said Dalton. “Students can also take care to waste less, especially food waste. If global food waste was a country, it would be the third-highest emitter in the world.”

Barry also believes students can do the same. “Every individual, including every student, has a role to play in climate action. That includes choosing sustainable modes of transportation, conserving energy, and helping get the word out about climate change and actions that we can all take.”

Since 1999, the City of Mississauga has been a member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Partners for Climate Protection (PCP). Mississauga Council adopted the City’s first Living Green Master Plan (LGMP) in 2012.

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